Sunday, May 05, 2019

Welcome to FromDC2Iowa: Contents & Guide

Welcome to FromDC2Iowa, a collection of well over 1,000 blog posts and pages on a wide variety of topics, created and maintained by Nicholas Johnson since 2006.

Quick Links
* Most recent blog essays: "May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District," May 4, 2019

"Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019," May 2, 2019

"Democrats Qualified for Debates," April 29, 2019

"Presidential Experience," April 28, 2019 [embedded: "Democrats in 2020 Should Value Experienced Candidate," The Gazette, April 28, 2019, p. D3]

"Impeachment and the Mueller Report," April 22, 2019

"Presidential Candidates' Rankings and Experience," April 15, 2019

"Iowa's Judiciary and Hamilton's Warning," March 13, 2019 [embedded: "Iowa's Judiciary Must Remain Independent," The Gazette, March 13, 2013, p. A6]

"Joel Grubbe," February 9, 2019

"The Wall," January 20, 2019 [embedded: "Instead of a Wall, Focus on the Cause," The Gazette, January 20, 2019, p. D3]

"The Media Under Siege: And What KHOI Can Do About It," November 16, 2018

"The Futility of War and the Path to Peace," November 11, 2018

"Who Let the Dogs Out," August 26, 2018 [embedded: "Tell Me: Who Let the Dogs of War Out?" The Gazette, August 26, 2018, p. D3]

"Love," August 10, 2018

"Impeachment Petition," August 4, 2018

"Media Under Siege," July 8, 2018 [embedded: "The Media Under Siege," The Gazette, July 8, 2018, p. D3]

"Doing the Wrong Thing Better," June 30, 2018 [embedded: "Doing the Wrong Thing Better," Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 30, 2018, p. A6]

"Democrats Should Choose Norris," May 24, 2018 [embedded: "Democrats Should Choose Norris," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 23, 2018, p. A7]

"Sinclair TV Defies Originalism," April 14, 2018 [embedded: "Sinclair TV Defies Originalism," The Gazette, April 14, 2018, p. A6]

"Making Sense of Trump's Syria Attack," April 14, 2018

"'Never Happen Again' Is Not Enough," February 28, 2018 [embedded: "'Never Happen Again' Is Not Enough," The Gazette, February 28, 2018, p. A6; "Why 'Never Again' Is Not Enough," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 7, 2018, p. A7; and "Why 'Never Again' is Never Enough," The Daily Iowan, March 19, 2018, p. 4]

"UI Funding Worse Than Thought," February 16, 2018

"School Shootings: What You Can Do," February 15, 2018

"Religious Rights and Civil Wrongs on Campus," January 20, 2018

"Taxes Are Last Step Not First," December 24, 2017 [embedded: "Decisions Must Come Before Taxes," The Gazette, January 3, 2018, p. A5; and "Taxes Are Last Step, Not the First, to Making U.S. Great," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 27, 2018, p. A6]

"Defending Democracy," December 3, 2017 [embedded: "Defending Democracy," The Gazette, December 3, 2017, p. C4]

"Lipstick on TIFs," December 2, 2017 [embedded: "City is Putting Lipstick on TIFs," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 2, 2017, p. A6]

"Media's Role and Future," November 18, 2017

"Free Speech Rights: Trump vs. NFL," September 26, 2017

"Afghanistan: Our Unwinnable War to Nowhere," August 29, 2017

Business Leaders: Make Legislators Fund Educated Workforce," August 13, 2017 [embedded: "Can Biz Leaders Save Education?" The Gazette, Insight, August 22, 2017, p. A6]

"Unlearning Hatred," August 15, 2017

"Thoughts on Eating Living Things," August 13, 2017

"Does Trump Really Want a Chief of Staff?" August 3, 2017

"Should You Buy an Electric Car?" July 30, 2017

"GOP Healthcare: Just 'Tell 'em I lied,'" July 28, 2017

"Acceptable, Available, Affordable Housing," July 22, 2017 [embedded: "Health Care, Housing Rights?" The Gazette, Insight, August 1, 2017, p. A5]

"Unfit To Be The Ruler," July 4, 2017

"Not All Criticism is Defamation," July 4, 2017 [embedded: "Is Superintendent Criticism 'Defamation'?" Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 28, 2017, p. 7A]

"Kushner's Back-Channel Multiple Tragedies," May 29, 2017

"Trump's 'Just Politics' Defense," May 28, 2017

"How to Start a Governorship," May 25, 2017

"Why Ned Neutrality is Your Friend," May 22, 2017 [embedded: "Why Net Neutrality is Our Friend," "Insight," The Gazette, June 2, 2017, p. A6]

"Mediacom's 1000% Interest Late Payment Fee," May 9, 2017

"What Trump Needs to Know About Libel," May 1, 2017

"A Millionaire by Age 30? Here's How," April 26, 2017

"Airlines, Crisis Communications 101, and Prohibited Speech," April 18, 2017

"Of Missiles and Teachers," April 7, 2017 [embedded: "Spending on Military Always Comes at a Cost," Nicholas Johnson, "Insight & Books," The Gazette, April 9, 2017, p. D5]

"Collusion, Treason, Trump and Putin," April 5, 2017

"How to Save Highter Ed," March 19, 2017 [embedded: "Saving Higher Ed; Step1: Listen to What Iowans Want," Nicholas Johnson, "Insight & Books," The Gazette, March 19, 2017, p. D1, and "Solutions for Iowa Higher Ed's Woes," Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 12, 2017, p. A7] ]

"Resources for Trump Watchers," February 11, 2017

"Who Are We?" January 31, 2017 (a response to President Trump's ill-considered travel ban)

"No Elephants in the Room," January 15, 2017 (NFL football)

"Educating In and For a Digital Age; The Vast Waistline & Other Challenges to Education as We Knew It," January 14, 2017 [text of remarks delivered at 4CAST - Campus Academic Strategies and Technology Conference, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, January 12, 2017]

"Eastern Iowa's Declaration of Human Rights," January 5, 2017 (contains "Focus on Our Common Values," The Gazette, January 1, 2017, p. D2)

"Tracking Trump," November 15, 2016 (More like a Web site with links to associated pages than like an individual blog essay, this is both a daily report and a repository of news and opinion regarding President-Elect Donald J. Trump from the day after the election (i.e., November 9) through the day of his inauguration as president on January 20, 2017.)

"Democratic Party's Past -- and Future," November 9, 2016

"Hillary's New Emails: A Solution for FBI Director Comey," October 31, 2016

"An Outrageous Merger," October 29, 2016

"Republicans Need to Get Their Party Back From Trump," Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 20, 2016, p. A7

"Iowa's Top Republicans' Major Mistake," October 13, 2016

"Law, Social Norms and Trump," October 2, 2016

"Donald Trump's Barrel of Squirrels," September 25, 2016

"First Thoughts on 911 -- 15 Years Later," September 11, 2016

"At Last, the Agnostic, Insomniac, Dyslexic Answer," September 10, 2016

"Trump Might Not Be Blundering in Race," September 9, 2016

"Labor Day for All 2016," September 4, 2016

"Our Revolution: Yes; But First Some Questions," August 31, 2016

"The Doping Dilemma," August 17, 2016

"Maybe This Explains Trump," August 15, 2016

When Words Can Kill," August 10, 2016

"The DNC Still Just Doesn't Get It," July 29, 2016

"Why Trump May Win; Discouraged By The Democratic Party's Self-Inflicted Wounds," July 25, 2016

"Include People in Process," The Gazette, July 24, 2016, p. D3 [embedded in "Doing It Ourselves," July 24, 2016]

"An Answer to Athletes' Doping?" July 23, 2016

"Cancer: 'Of Course; But Maybe,'" July 13, 2016

"Clinton-Lynch Tarmac Talk; 'What Were They Thinking?'" July 4, 2016

"Focus on Muslims Misplaced After Shooting," Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 17, 2016, p. A5

"Keeping Up With ISIS; There Is Another Explanation for Orlando," June 14, 2016

"On Being, Doing and 'Compromise;' What's Next for Senator Sanders' Revolution? Here's My Suggestion," June 9, 2016

"When 'The Morning After' Looks Even Worse," June 8, 2016

"Searching for the Media's Soul," June 7, 2016

"My Take on Supervisor Race," June 4, 2016

"Breaking Through Power: The Media," May 29, 2016

* Most recent UI & President Harreld-related items & comments:

"What Putin Can Teach Rastetter," May 9, 2016, as published in The Daily Iowan, May 6, 2016, p. 4

"What Russia's President Putin Can Teach Regents' President Rastetter," April 16, 2016 (an expanded version of The Daily Iowan's excerpt, above)

UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," February 1, 2016

Cessation of Ongoing Harreld Repository [Feb. 29]. For the past six months, since the Iowa Board of Regents' selection of Bruce Harreld as president of the University of Iowa, September 1, 2015, this blog has endeavored to compile a relatively complete repository of links to, and comments about, the news stories and opinion pieces dealing with the Board of Regents, President Harreld, and related items of relevance to higher education in general and the University of Iowa in particular. They are contained in the blogs for September-October, November, December, 2015, and January and February, 2016 (all linked from this page). I thought it would be a useful resource for those looking for a single source to follow the saga, as well as for those in future years wishing to do serious research, or merely inform themselves, about this important slice of UI's history. Response from readers indicates it has at least provided the former function. Now as they say, "as a concession to the shortness of life," and a desire to get back to other writing, I am going to reclaim those daily hours of research for other tasks. As major UI stories worthy of individual blog essays come along they will, of course be blogged about from time to time.

For research beyond February 29, 2016, you might start with this list (any omissions were inadvertent; email me suggestions for more):

University of Iowa AAUP,

Mark Barrett, Ditchwalk, (look for Harreld Hire Updates)

Iowans Defending Our Universities,

John Logsdon,, and on Twitter,

Josiah Pickard,

. . . and well-crafted search terms in Google. -- N.J., February 29, 2016

More Detailed Contents, Links & Guide

The most recent blog essay (as distinguished from the entries listing UI-related material) is:"Breaking Through Power: The Media," May 29, 2016

See more, below.

University of Iowa, most recent: The most recent month's collection in the ongoing repository of news, opinion pieces, and documents regarding the University of Iowa, its current president, Bruce Harreld, the Iowa Board of Regents, and related matters is: UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," February 1, 2016

University of Iowa, earlier: Earlier collections of, and individual blog essays about, the repository of news, opinion pieces, and documents regarding the University of Iowa, its current president, Bruce Harreld, the Iowa Board of Regents, and related matters are:
UI President Harreld - Jan. 2016," January 1, 2016

"UI President Harreld - Dec. 2015," December 1, 2015

"UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," November 1, 2015

"Business Background: Enough for University President?" September 2-October 31, 2015

Recent terrorism-related blog essays

Recent TIF-related blog essays

Recent other than (1) University of Iowa, (2) terrorism, or (3) TIF-related topics:
"Breaking Through Power: The Media," May 29, 2016

"What Putin Can Teach Rastetter," May 9, 2016, as published in The Daily Iowan, May 6, 2016, p. 4

"What Russia's President Putin Can Teach Regents' President Rastetter," April 16, 2016
"The Constitution, Supreme Court and People's Voice: Senate Ignoring the People's Voice," March 21, 2016
"Why Won't Media Give Bernie a Break?" March 23, 2016
"The Constitution, Supreme Court and People's Voice," March 21, 2016
"Random Thoughts on Tuition-Free Iowa Universities," March 11, 2016
"Water," February 29, 2016
"The State of the Media," February 28, 2016
"Our Communities' Second Priority," February 7, 2016
"Bernie's Extraordinary, Unacknowledged Accomplishment," February 3, 2016
Why Nobody 'Wins' the Iowa Caucus," February 1, 2016
"Caucus With Your Heart And Head -- For Bernie," January 28, 2016
"Why I'm Caucusing for Sanders and You Should Too," January 22, 2016
"Reasons for Hope in 2016," December 25, 2015
"Feeling the Bern at The Mill," December 9, 2015
"Anyone for Democracy," November 22, 2015
General instructions on searching by heading, date, or topic

(1) If you've come to FromDC2Iowa and landed on this page, rather than what you are looking for, it is because this is the default page, the opening page, for this blog.

(2) Many visitors are looking for recent blog posts. At the bottom of this page you will find suggestions. At this time they include: (1) material related to the Iowa Board of Regents process for selecting President Bruce Harreld, and his ongoing performance in office, (2) terrorism, ISIS and Syrian refugees, and (3) TIFs, and other transfers of taxpayers' money to the wealthy.

(3) It is also possible to go directly to specific blog posts within this blog. Here's how:

First, go to the top of this page where you will see the headline, "Welcome to FromDC2Iowa: Contents & Guide" and click on it there (not as reproduced in this sentence). That will clean this page by removing blog posts from earlier this month.

In that right hand column you will find two ways of accessing individual blog posts:
(1) Blog Archive. The first is under the bold heading "Blog Archive.". You will see the years from 2006 to the present. Click on a year, and the months of that year will appear. Click on a month and the individual headlines for the blog posts during that month appear. Click on a headline and you will be transferred to that blog post. (Once there, you will see the unique URL address for that blog post that you can use in the future, or share with a friend, as a way to reach it directly.)

(2) Google Search Nick's Blog or Website. Immediately beneath the Blog Archive is the bold heading "Google Search Nick's Blog or Website," followed by an empty box, and the instructions, "Insert terms above; then click here." (Although it offers the option to search the "Nicholas Johnson Web Site" as well, it is set to the default: "FromDC2Iowa Blog.") Use whatever search terms you think most appropriate, such as "University of Iowa," "terrorism," "TIFs," or "Harreld." Your click will open up a Google search Web page listing the relevant blog posts (if any) with the links you can click on to see them.

University of Iowa's new President Bruce Harreld.
Looking for the blog post containing extensive repository of documents, news, opinion pieces (updated daily) from September 2 through October 31, 2015, regarding the Iowa Board of Regents' process, and early selection of UI President-elect Bruce Harreld? -->Click here<--

For November 2015 coverage -- with documents, news stories, and opinion pieces -- from his first day on the job, November 2, through November 30, 2015 -->Click here<--

For the December 2015 coverage -->Click Here<--

For the January 2016 coverage -->Click Here<--

In addition to these blog posts, which primarily contain chronological lists of documents, news articles and opinion pieces -- along with some relatively brief commentary about some of the items -- there are also the following more traditional blog essays and newspaper columns by Nicholas Johnson on these subjects:

"Hiring Candid, Courageous University Presidents," August 29, 2015

"Should Bruce Harreld Be Given Serious Consideration in UI Search?" embedded in "Business Background: Enough for University President?" September 2, 2015

"Better Ways to Pick a New UI President," The Gazette, September 27, 2015, embedded in "Seven Steps for Transitioning Universities," September 27, 2015

"UI's President Could Have Been Chris Christie," October 3, 2015

"Parallels Between School Systems Staggering," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 10, 2015, embedded in "UI and Higher Education in Context," November 9, 2015

"Trouble in River City: Corruption Creep," December 13, 2015

"Quick Draw Harreld and Why Language Matters," December 17, 2015

Terrorism, ISIS, Syrian Refugees.
Understanding Terrorist Thugs," The Daily Iowan, December 3, 2015

Nicholas Johnson, "Sober Risk Assessment Needed to Respond to Terror," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 28, 2015

Nicholas Johnson, "Syria's Refugees: Job One and Job Two," The Gazette, November 1, 2015

"Is U.S. Response Strengthening ISIS?" September 19, 2014

For additional speech texts, columns and blog posts on these subjects, see "Samples of Nicholas Johnson's Prior Writing on Terrorism and War"

TIFs and Other Crony Capitalism Schemes For links to 44 blog essays on these topics since 2006 see, "TIFS: Links to Blog Essays"

# # #

Saturday, May 04, 2019

May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District

May 4, 2019

Check below for: Senator Amy Klobuchar in Iowa City today (May 4); her background, pros, cons, stats, money, donors, endorsements. Plus: (1) How are "early-state activists" changing preferences? (2) A poll of Iowans' top choices. (3) If the general election were held today who could beat Trump? (4) "Who's Running in Dem Primary for Iowa's U.S. House District 2?" (5) And finally, my review of her presentation at The Mill.
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Presidential primary candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is visiting Iowa City today: 3:30 p.m., Iowa City Public Library, Room A; The Mill, 5:00-7:00 p.m. Here's a summary introduction and some stats:

Born 1960, and grew up in Minneapolis-St. Paul; one sister, parents Star Tribune columnist and K-12 teacher; exemplary academic record of high school valedictorian, Yale magna cum laude, and University of Chicago J.D.; two books; married John Bessler (lawyer, law professor), one child, Abigail; partner in two law firms (corporate "regulatory work in telecommunications law"); elected Hennepin County Attorney 1998, 2002; U.S. Senate 2006, 2012, 2018 (58%, 65%, 60%) (first woman elected from Minnesota); very popular in Minnesota, selected for leadership, numerous awards; travelled with Senators McCain and Graham to Baltic and Ukraine 2016; noteworthy televised participation in Kavanaugh and Barr hearings. Sources:;

Negatives: (1) "African American prison admissions in 2006, Klobuchar's last full year [as county attorney], were 22 times higher than whites." Comment: This statement, standing alone, is misleading. Senator Klobuchar's response ("If you look at the data, you will see there was a 65 percent decrease in incarceration of African Americans when you go from the beginning of my term to the end." CNN Sunday, March 17, 2019) may also be misleading. But to be fair, and provide balance, one should also consider this Washington Post analysis: "Amy Klobuchar Cites Bad Data to Claim Credit fior Reducing Black Incarceration," Washington Post, Marcy 21, 2019. Significance requires context: national averages; Hennepin County averages before and after 2006.
(2) "In February 2019, Buzzfeed News reported that Klobuchar's congressional office was 'controlled by fear, anger, and shame'. Interviews with former staffers indicated that Klobuchar frequently abused and humiliated her employees, with as much staff time spent on managing her rage as on official business. Klobuchar was also listed as one of the 'worst bosses in Congress', with an annual staff turnover rate between 2011 and 2016 of 36%, the highest of any senator."; Comment: Sources may be disgruntled employees; Klobuchar may just be hard-driving and as tough on herself as others; may not suffer fools gladly; may have changed behavior since then; would require more research before accepting as valid negative for president.

Donors. Klobuchar raised over $5.2 million in seven weeks (and can add additional $3 million from prior quarter). She had about 100,000 new donors; average donation $40; 85% of donors gave less than $100. Emily Tillett, "2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Reveal First Quarter Fundraising Efforts, CBS News, April 15, 2019.

Endorsements. Klobuchar ranks 4th out of nine: Biden, 80; Booker, 57; Harris, 55; Klobuchar, 39; Warren, 23; Sanders, 22; O'Rourke, 14; Castro, 12; Buttigieg, 11. FiveThirtyEight. Note that endorsements often (but not always) reflect the combined preferences of wealthy donors and Democratic Party officials. Compare these rankings with the ones immediately below.

Early-State Activists. Iowa is an "early state." These percentages indicate which candidates are being considered by activists as possibly worthy of their support. The percentages following the candidates' names are their standing as of December 2018, February 2019, and April 2019. They are ranked by their last (April) percentage -- the most current and relevant. The others provide indication of the direction of their popularity.
On the most current ranking Klobuchar is 5th out of 11. FiveThirtyEight, "Which candidates early-state activists are considering".

Harris 61% 54% 53%
Booker 45% 49% 47%
Warren 24% 40% 35%
Buttigieg - 17% 29%
Klobuchar 34% 37% 26%
Gillibrand 21% 23% 26%
Sanders 29% 29% 24%
Biden 39% 34% 21%
McAuliffe 5% 14% 15%
Castro -- 17% 15%
O'Rourke 34% 14% 15%

Iowa Voters. Most polls measure candidates' national support. Here are the Gravis poll results for Iowa on April 22, 2019.

Biden, 19%
Sanders, 19%
Buttigieg, 14%
Harris, 6%
Warren, 6%
O'Rourke, 5%
Booker, 4%
Klobuchar, 4%
Delaney, 2%
Gillibrand, 1%
Yang, 1%
Castro, 0%

Klobuchar Nationally. Four polls on April 30, 2019, report Klobuchar somewhat below her support in Iowa: CNN, 2%; Quinnipiac, 1%; Morning Consult, 2%; Boston Globe/Suffolk, 1%.

Who beats Trump? Nearly everybody. Real Clear Politics reports the results if a general election were held on May 3, 2019, between six Democratic candidates and President Trump. Here are the projected results, in percentages of votes, Democrat first, Trump second:
O'Rourke, 52%-42%
Biden, 51%-45%
Sanders, 50%-44%
Harris, 49%-45%
Buttigieg, 47%-44%
Warren, 47%-48%

Who's Running in Dem Primary for Iowa's U.S. House District 2?

"After floating the possibility two weeks ago of becoming a candidate for the 2nd District U.S. House seat, Johnson County Democratic Sen. Kevin Kinney has decided not to run. . . . So far, former state Sen. Rita Hart of Wheatland, who was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Quad Cities attorney Ian Russell, Iowa City businesswoman Veronica Tessler and Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken have expressed some level of interest in succeeding Loebsack." James Q. Lynch, Kinney Decides Against Seeking 2nd District Seat," The Gazette, May 2, 2019, p. A2. That was Thursday; by Saturday we read, "Tessler Bows Out of 2nd District," The Gazette, May 4, 2019, p. A7.

Review of Senator Klobuchar's Presentation at the Mill
(Posted to Facebook May 5, 2019, 11:13 AM)
Please let me know if #SenatorAmyKlobuchar's remarks at The Mill (May 4) are available anywhere in audio. (Video, here: thanks to Tom Carsner, has very poor audio -- but does give sense of crowd size.)

I'm still not endorsing. And my "Academy Award" for Best Campaign Speech Performance won't weigh much in that ultimate endorsement. But credit where due: Senator Amy Klobuchar's May 4 performance at The Mill ranks among the best I've witnessed in 75 years of evaluating campaign speeches.

I'm judging it in the context of where she was, and when it was, for: lack of reliance on notes; content, organization, delivery, timing; awareness of, relationship with, and shaping remarks for audience; energy, authenticity; knowledge of local community, politics and politicians; ability to move audience from laughter to tears (without being maudlin) back to laughter, the John Oliver model (mixing in-depth analysis of serious issues with humor) and Paula Poundstone-quality extemporaneous response to audience; along with, of course, choice of issues and their presentation with understanding, commitment and rational analysis -- plus her unexpected understanding of how to beat Trump.

I've never seen The Mill quite so tightly packed with people wall-to-wall that it was hard to capture in pictures; here's one effort, along with her introduction and a close-up from my ringside seat. And see the previous blog post:

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019

How's Your Candidate Ranked as of May 2?
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Two Top-Ranked Polls: Quinnipiac and CNN/SSRS
Polls taken April 26-29 and April 25-28; registered voters; small samples (419, 411). Five Thirty Eight.
Biden 38%, 39%
Sanders 11%, 15%
Warren 12%, 8%
Buttigieg 10%, 7%
Harris 8%, 5%
O'Rourke 5%, 6%
Two more; lesser-ranked polls by Morning Consult
Polls taken April 22-28 and April 15-21; likely voters; large samples (15,475, 14,335). Five Thirty Eight.
Biden 36%, 30%
Sanders 22%, 24%
Buttigieg 8%, 9%
Warren 9%, 7%
Harris 7%, 8%
O'Rourke 5%, 6%
Bottom Line
The ranking of the top six candidates in these four polls keeps Biden and Sanders ranked 1 and 2, Harris and O'Rourke 5 and 6. Buttigieg and Warren exchange places as 3 and 4. The remaining candidates are at 1%, 2% or 3% (with the exception of Booker in the 2nd Morning Consult poll at 4%).

# # #

Monday, April 29, 2019

Democrats Qualified for Debates

Will Your Candidate be in the Debates?
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
When and where are the Debates?

The first "debate" among the Democratic presidential candidates will be held in Miami June 26 and 27, 2019. ("Debate" is in quotes because these presidential candidates events are more properly thought of as a news conference with 20 subjects and one or two questioners than as the classic academic form of debate, with two teams of two persons each engaged in timed presentations and rebuttal.)

What's the Standard?

There are two paths to qualification for participation: donors and polls. To qualify because of donors the candidate must (a) have received donations from 65,000 or more individuals, including (b) at least 200 donors each from within at least 20 states. To qualify on the basis of polls the candidate must have received at least 1% support in at least 3 polls.

Who are the Top Candidates?

Sixteen (of 20) candidates qualify under one or both standards.

The top seven have 9 polls each over 1%, and more than 65,000 donors: Sanders (563,359), Buttigieg (158,568), Harris (138,000), Warren (134,902), Biden (96,926), Klobuchar (>65,000), O'Rourke (>65,000). The 8th, Andrew Yang, ranks 5th for donors (101,352), and has 5 polls over 1%.

The additional eight include seven who qualify only with polls Booker (9), Castro (7), Gillibrand (6), Hickenlooper (4), Delaney (3), and Ryan (3). Gabbard qualifies with donors (>65,000).

For additional data see, Maggie Astor, Denise Lu and Matt Stevens, "Who's in the Democratic Debates, and Who's in Danger of Missing Them," The New York Times, April 29, 2019; and compare, Geoffrey Skelley, "16 Candidates Now Qualify For The First Democratic Primary Debates," FiveThirtyEight, April 26, 2019.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Presidential Experience

Click HERE for the application to some of the top Democratic candidates of the criteria set forth in this column.
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Democrats in 2020 Should Value Experienced Candidate
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, April 28, 2019, p. D3

Why focus on the Democrats’ presidential primary? Because of the 13 elected presidents since 1932 (Gerald Ford was appointed) only two who wanted reelection didn’t win (Presidents Jimmy Carter and H.W. Bush). This history, plus President Donald Trump’s loyal base, suggest the 2020 election is Trump’s to lose.

Democrats want a winning candidate. They should also want a competent president.

There’s a path to becoming British Prime Minister. There’s none for our presidency: 17 presidents were former governors, 14 vice presidents, eight cabinet secretaries, three came directly from the Senate, for five it was their first election. None had to meet education or experience requirements, take training programs or read manuals.

We want character, compassion, compromise, courage and curiosity in our presidents – along with intelligence, honesty, decency and other commendable personal qualities. Competence alone isn’t enough.

No candidate will have the wide range of experience a president needs, but the more the better.

In the 2008 Democratic primary Bill Richardson won the experience challenge. He understood legislative process from 15 years in the U.S. House, state government from two terms as governor, and federal as former Secretary, Department of Energy. He had administered large organizations and had the international perspective of a former U.N. ambassador credited with successful hostage negotiations.

Richardson used this in a comedic political spot.

A man interviewing him for a job recites Richardson’s resume and then asks him, “So, what makes you think you can be president?”

George H.W. Bush had a comparable record: CIA director, House member, U.N. ambassador, chief liaison China, Republican National Committee chair, and eight years as vice president.

What’s the range of helpful experience?

Administering eight million federal, military, and contract employees requires unique skills. Having been a governor, big city mayor, or cabinet officer helps.

There are “political people” – those who have run for office, managed campaigns, served constituents, and know the norms. It helps to have been one.

Presidents impact many government institutions: school boards, mayors and city councils, county supervisors, governors, state legislatures, Congress, Cabinet departments, the judiciary and the military. Has your candidate had experience within those institutions?

Presidents needn’t be former constitutional law professors, but they need to understand and support, emotionally as well as intellectually, the Constitution’s limitations on, as well as powers of, the presidency.

Having been a U.S. Senator is not enough. But understanding the executive-legislative relationship is essential, and it helps to have been a legislator somewhere.

There are 4,000 presidential appointments. Some candidates could list 4,000 qualified appointees from memory. Others struggle to name a couple dozen. Where will your candidate look? How will they choose?

A range of life experiences and acquaintances from high school dropouts to Ph.D. professors; multiple ethnicities and religions; labor leaders and CEOs; impoverished and wealthy; urban and rural; agricultural, manufacturing and retail employees, makes for a more competent and compassionate president.

The president must be an international player and may become a global leader. Having worked with and for organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, NATO, or as an ambassador, provides insight. Failing that, previous education, multiple languages, and world travel can help a president to frame questions and understand the answers.

While we’re enjoying the excitement of evaluating our stampede of wannabe candidates let’s give at least some thought to their qualifications as wannabe presidents. Measure them against this list, and then ask them, “What makes you think you can be president?” [Photo credit:]

Nichholas Johnson, a native Iowan and three-time presidential appointee, maintains for his latest book. Comments:


Application of Experience Criteria to Top Democrats

1. What is meant by "experience"? To have been a vice president, or senator, is an experience, but is not "the experience" referenced here.

The breadth of desirable experience for a president is more like the experience, understanding and skills one would hope for a decathlon competitor. In track competition a decathlon consists of four track and six field events, a total of 10 events. Competitions include 100-meter sprint, 110-meter hurdles, 400-meter event, 1500-meter event, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw and pole vault. My high school track experience consisted of shot put and discus. Even had I possessed skill in those events decathlons would have been out of the question. Javelin perhaps, but I've never tried to pole vault, and there was good reason for the coach to keep me out of running events.

Similarly, it is not enough that a president has been a governor, or senator, or ambassador. What one would hope for, ideally, is a candidate with experience in each of the eight (and more) categories of experience detailed in the column, above, and summarily repeated, below.

2. Is lack of experience a deal-breaker? In brief, "No." It is a relevant factor in comparing candidates that is often overlooked. There are many legitimate, relevant reasons for preferring one candidate over another. Experience is but one of them. Others are mentioned in the column, above.

3. What about Trump's "experience"? In fairness to the Democratic candidates, all of whom are fairly light in the experience department (as the word is used here), it should be noted that each and every one of them far exceeds Trump -- who fails to qualify in almost all of the eight categories

Comparing the Leaders

To remind, the categories, above, are:
1. Administration and management of huge organizations.
2. "Political" savy.
3. Range of institutions exposure.
4. Constitutional knowledge.
5. Legislative experience.
6. Network of quality potential appointees.
7. Range of acquaintances and life experience.
8. International understanding.
I've chosen six candidates for comparison: Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris, Warren and O'Rourke.

1. Administrative. All are lacking administrative and management experience leading huge organizations. All have had some experience in smaller settings: Harris' role as California Attorney General; Sanders and Buttigieg as relatively small-town mayors; Biden heading various projects while reporting to President Obama. None has served as a governor or federal cabinet secretary.

2. Political. All have run for and won one or more elections.

3. Institutional range. The range of their institutional familiarity is limited. Two have served on a city council (Biden and O'Rourke). Harris served as a state's attorney general; Biden was once a public defender; Warren a professor in higher education institutions.

Buttigieg is the only one with actual military service. None has even worked in, let alone headed, the Pentagon, CIA or other intelligence agencies. Warren served on the Senate Armed Services Committee; O'Rourke on the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees.

I'm sure there's more, but in the column, above, I mention "school boards, mayors and city councils, county supervisors, governors, state legislatures, Congress, Cabinet departments, the judiciary and the military" and few have touched more than one or two of those bases.

4. Constitution. Three are lawyers (Biden, Harris and Warren), but that is not the equivalent of a mastery of constitutional law or involvement in controversies in which the constitution was an issue. Of course, constitutional and Supreme Court interest and study, with emphasis on Article II executive power, is not restricted to those with law degrees.

5. Legislative. All but Buttigieg have legislative experience in the U.S. Senate or House. There may be some with state legislative experience that research did not uncover.

6. Network. Biden probably has the edge in the number of contacts with individuals qualified to serve the federal government in some professional capacity (which is what this category is about). The others would not have reason to have a breadth of such contacts (beyond the specialties of their committees other other life work). Of course, those who have made it to the debates on the basis of number of donors have at least a political network of 200 people in 20 states: Sanders (563,359), Buttigieg (158,568), Harris (138,000), Warren (134,902), O'Rourke (>65,000). But that's not what this category is about.

7. Diversity. There's no way (at least that I know of) to find out the range of acquaintances and life experiences of the leading candidates with sufficient detail and accuracy to make meaningful judgments and comparisons. That does not detract from the significance of this category, or the possibility one might pick up bits and pieces if attuned to looking for them.

8. International. So far as my scanning of their bios revealed none has the kind of international experience described in the column: "United Nations, World Bank, NATO, or as an ambassador." Biden as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and vice president, had significant foreign travel and meetings with leaders of other countries. Buttigieg's military service included time spent in Afghanistan; he is said to know eight languages.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Impeachment and the Mueller Report

Random Thoughts Regarding
Impeachment and the Mueller Report
April 22, 2019; April 23
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Politics and the Constitution

The Constitution specifically imposes on every member of the House of Representatives the power and responsibility for impeaching a president. ("The President ... shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Art. II, Sec. 4. "The House of Representatives ... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment." Art. I, Sec. 2.5. "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." Art. I, Sec. 3.6).

There is no provision excluding this responsibility from "cases in which so doing might result in a House member's inability to be reelected," or "cases in which conviction by the Senate is highly unlikely." It is as inappropriate (and possibly unconstitutional) for a member of the House to fail to support an impeachment inquiry for partisan reasons as for that Member to pursue impeachment for partisan reasons.

The founders laid this responsibility upon the House for reasons similar to their choosing the House as the body to declare war (a constitutional obligation House members have also sidestepped) -- because it is the closest to the people who will bear the burden of both decisions.

Grounds for Impeachment

Not only is it impossible to read the Mueller Report -- or even the books and daily newspaper reports about President Trump -- without concluding that an impeachment inquiry is clearly warranted, but the Report's authors suggest that is their conclusion as well.

Although constrained by the distinctions between the powers of an "Independent Counsel" and a "Special Counsel," and their lack of authority to indict a sitting president, the authors note that "a criminal investigation during the President's term is permissible" (vol. II, p. 1), and that "a President does not have immunity after he leaves office," leading to their decision to conduct "a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available." (vol. II, p. 1). That certainly sounds like a contemplation of at least the possibility of an indictment for obstruction of justice after Trump leaves office. This conclusion is reinforced with the comment that "we are unable to reach [the] judgment . . . after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice ... " (vol. II, p. 2) along with the ten or more categories of "overarching factual issues" and "general statements about the President's conduct." (vol. II, p. 7).

In addition to possible future indictments for obstruction of justice, the Report states, "The conclusion that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” (vol. II, p. 8)

Finally, a simple comparison of the charges and findings regarding the behavior of Trump against those of the two presidents impeached by the House during the past 50 years renders laughable any suggestion that Trump's offenses do not warrant an impeachment inquiry.

President Richard Nixon's impeachment involved his response to an old fashioned physical break-in at Democratic Party headquarters. The articles of impeachment were for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. (The latter was for Nixon's refusal to comply with Congressional subpoenas -- something Trump is currently doing, although Trump is going above and beyond mere refusal by actually suing the Congressional committee!). (

For Trump Administration's current refusal to comply with Congress' demands, see Peter Baker, Annie Karni and Alan Rappeport, "Democrats Ask and Trump Says No, Signaling a Bitter Fight Ahead," New York Times, April 23, 2019, p. A12, and Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, "Trump Says He is Opposed to White House Aides Testifying to Congress, Deepening Power Struggle with Hill," The Washington Post, posted April 23, 2019, 8:28 PM.

President Bill Clinton's two article of impeachment -- for perjury and obstruction of justice -- grew out of a "sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones" and inappropriate sexual encounters with a White House intern. (

Impeachment Alternatives

If, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other Party leaders urge, there is not to be an impeachment of President Trump, notwithstanding the constitutional obligations of House members, I have urged alternatives such as House resolutions or censure.

What the House must provide, for the sake of our democracy and constitution, as well as the legacy of this House, is more than mere multiple congressional committee hearings. There must be some form of House action, with a recorded vote of each member.


Following the publication of this blog post analogous analyses have been published. Here are two (with no suggestion this blog post was read by either of them, something I would consider highly unlikely):

Hillary Clinton, "Mueller Documented a Serious Crime Against All Americans. Here's How to Respond," The Washington Post, April 24, 2019, 4:44 PM

Elizabeth Drew, "The Danger in Not Impeaching Trump; It may be risky politically, but Congress has a responsibility to act," The New York Times, April 25, 2019

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Presidential Candidates' Rankings and Experience

Democratic 2020 Presidential Primary:
Candidates, Rankings and Experience
April 15, 2019; updates April 23, 25, 26
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
This site is intended to be an entertaining conversation starter for those who enjoy and follow politics and have maintained enough civility to continue to speak about such matters with friends and family.

I have not endorsed any candidate, and am not now working in any candidate's campaign. (If and when that changes I will post a notice to that effect.)

Moreover, this blog post does not engage in the foolishness of forecasting -- especially this early in the campaign. Plenty of "unknown unknowns" will be encountered along the road to November 3, 2020, any one of which can change the outcome during a single news cycle.

This is simply one approach to the question, "Where are we now?"

The Ranking
As of today (April 15) reports there are 227 Democratic Party candidates, 84 Republicans, 24 Libertarians and 14 from the Green Party.
Update April 23, 2019: As one would expect, the number of candidates remains relatively steady: Democrats up 2 to 229, Libertarians up 1 to 25, Republicans and Greens steady at 84 and 14. Ballotpedia (a site full of additional interesting and useful data as well).
We will be reporting on the top three or four Democrats, as measured by four criteria: popularity with voters, money raised, number of donors, and weighted endorsements.

My judgment as to the top four at this time, considering all four criteria, are: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker (pictured below in that order; first three from Wikimedia, no Wikimedia of Booker so used selfie he took). Here's how they rank:

Popularity (from Real Clear Politics): Sanders, 21.7%; O'Rourke, 8.3%; Harris, 7.8%, Booker, 3.7%. (Biden, at 31.2%, is excluded from this ranking because he has not yet entered the race.) Rolling Stone, presumably also measuring popularity, changes rankings each week. This week they are consistent with Real Clear Politics' findings. Currently, Rolling Stone's rankings for this and last week were: Sanders (1, 1), Harris (2, 2), O'Rourke (4, 3), Booker (7, 6).
Update April 23, 2019: This week we expand the leaders' group from 4 to 6: At the top, Biden (30%) and Sanders (22.5%); in the next cluster O'Rourke (8.8%), Harris (8.5%), with Buttigieg and Warren tied at (6.0%). Real Clear Politics. The latest single poll, Monmouth, April 23, reports (name; percentage): Biden 27; Sanders 20; Harris 8; Buttigieg 8; Warren 6. Rolling Stone changed slightly to Real Clear Politics' 5: Sanders, Harris, Warren, O'Rourke, and Buttigieg (in that order).

Joe Biden. Of course, with Biden at 30%, and predictions he'll announce this Wednesday (April 24), that's a game-changer for the current front runners. April 25: It finally occurred this morning, rather than yesterday. It will be a couple of weeks before we can gather and update info on his money, number of donors, endorsements -- and whether his announcement will increase, or decrease, his support percentage.
April 26: Biden's announcement April 25 produced little news and less enthusiasm from most media. Many stories led with a list of reasons why Democrats should not, and will not, select him as their candidate, along with reporting President Trump's disparaging nickname for him: "Sleepy Joe." Here's an example: Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, "5 Questions That Will Determine if Joe Biden Can Succeed," The New York Times, April 25, 2019, p. A17. No candidate among the 20 now considered serious candidates has the range and depth of experience essential to a president's competence on Day One (though all have more than the current incumbent). But as limited as even Biden's is (U.S. senator, vice president, two prior presidential primaries, some international), his experience exceeds that of any of the others. His pre-announcement popularity with voters (30%) also put him at the head of the pack. Kind words seemed relegated to the opinion pages. Here's Republican David Brooks, "Your Average Joe," The New York Times, April 25, 2019 [Photo: Joe Biden, World Economic Forum, 2005; Credit: wikimedia commons.]
Money Raised (in total dollars and dollars per day; from PBS Newshour): Sanders ($18.2M; $444,000/day); Harris ($12M; $171,000/day); O'Rourke ($9.4M; $520,000/day); Booker ($5M; $84,745/day). Note the consistency in the Money Raised ranking and the Popularity ranking.
Update April 23, 2019: PBS Newshour reports no changes from last week for Sanders, Harris and O'Rourke. But we should probabaly now note that Buttigieg has raised $7 million ($107,000/day) and Klobuchar $5.2 million ($104,000 per day), both ahead of Booker, last week and this, at $5 million.
Number of Donors (from New York Times, Feb. 9, 2019): Given that the first primary is "the money primary" (discussed in Commentary, below) the total donated to each candidate is a relevant measure of their strength for a variety of reasons, including popularity. But because it can be so significantly affected by the receipt, or rejection, of PAC money and other large contributions it can be deceiving. (And because candidates can solicit and count their $1.00 and $5.00 contributions, their "average" (i.e., mean) contribution can also be deceiving.)

Therefore, the number of donors is data worth considering. (Bear in mind, these numbers are significantly affected by how long the candidate has been in the race, and change daily if not hourly, but the calculation on any given day provides some useful information. The following ranking was reported by the Times on Feb. 9 of this year.) Our current four candidates (Sanders, O'Rourke, Harris, Booker) are ranked 1, 2, 5, 8. Sanders, 1.2 million; O'Rourke, 743,000; Harris, 239,000; Booker, 56,000. (Those ranked 3, 4, 6, 7 are Elizabeth Warren (343,000), Kirsten Gillibrand (272,000), Sherrod Brown (114,000), and Jeff Merkley (105,000).
Update April 23, 2019: Some candidates report number of donors, others don't (e.g., Cory Booker). Some indication of numbers can be gathered from data regarding average contributions. Here's a CBS News report as of April 15. Emily Tillett, "2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Reveal First Quarter Fundraising Efforts," CBS News, April 15, 2019.
Sanders - 900,000 donors (includes 100,000 Independents, 20,000 Republicans) - 99.5% of donors gave less than $100, 88% of money came in $200 or less amounts - average donation $20
Harris - 218,000 donors - 98% less than $200 - average $28
O'Rourke - 218,000 donors - 98% less than $200 - average $43
Buttigieg - ($7,000,000) - 158,550 donors - 64% less than $200 - average $36.35
Warren - 135,000 donors - 99% less than $200 - average $28
Endorsements (from 538's points allocation system, from one to ten based on prestige/influence of the endorser): Booker (57), Harris (55), Sanders (21), O'Rourke (14).
Update April 23, 2019: Booker, Harris and O'Rourke are unchanged (57, 55, 14). Sanders is up one (to 22). And there are three additions for us this week: Klobuchar, who leaped to third place at 44; Biden, who is now being included, at 21; and Warren at 18. (Buttigieg is ranked ninth with 8 endorsement points.) FiveThirtyEight.

Update April 29, 2019: Big news, but no surprise: following Biden's declaration of candidacy he arrived on FiveThirtyEight's endorsement chart at number one, with 75 points. Booker (2), Harris (3), Sanders (6), and O'Rourke (7) still unchanged (at 57, 55, 22 and 14 points each). Klobuchar (4) has dropped from 44 to 39 points. Warren (5) is up from 18 to 23; Buttigieg (9) has risen from 8 to 11 points.
In terms of the concerns I've expressed regarding attacks on our democracy (Columns of Democracy), the Popularity ranking (Sanders, (O'Rourke, Harris, or Harris, O'Rourke), Booker), though both imperfect and clearly premature, comes the closest to "the people's choice." Money Raised, which produced the same ranking, and Number of Donors, which produced a similar ranking, are similar measures -- in this instance not just of the donor's marginal preference of one candidate over others, but of enough commitment to part with their money. (This is especially-to-only true if the candidate has refused PAC money and is relying on small contributions. To the extent money is coming from the 1%, PACs, and corporate bundling of checks we have a preliminary primary that Larry Lessig has called "the money primary," from which the surviving candidates are picked by the major donors who usually expect something in return. Voters are then left with choices from among only those candidates who have been cleared and "nominated" by America's most wealthy to run in the second primary.)

Endorsements raise separate, but related issues to those raised by "the money primary" -- as Bernie Sanders discovered in 2016. As the FiveThirtyEight site explains, "Party elites use endorsements to influence not only voters but also each other, hoping to get other powerful party members to rally behind the candidate they think would be most acceptable." In other words, just as there is "the money primary" there is also the "Democratic Party elites primary." Just as the major donors tend to have their own reasons for favoring one candidate over another, so do the Democratic Party elites.

Note that Booker and Kobuchar, who rank number one and three respectively with endorsements, rank 5 and 6 in fundraising, 7 and 8 in popularity, and 8 and 10 in number of donors.

So far this blog has focused on candidates. There is another factor that should be relevant to voters, but is often overlooked. That is: if your candidate were to win the general election, and become president, which of their past experiences and skills give you some confidence they will be able to not only win election as president but be able to function with competence as president? That is the subject of the blog post "Presidential Experience," April 28, 2019.

Am I interested in "the issues," the new (and old) ideas being put forth by the candidates? You bet I am. I love to learn about new public policy ideas, research and write about them, and think up new ones of my own. I've spent much of my life doing just that.

Candidate Andrew Yang has a "platform" (scroll down his "policies" page) that looks like it has about 100 such proposals. I'll probably look through all of them at some point.

There will be something connected to this blog post about policy if this post becomes an ongoing project.

I care about a candidate's intelligence, their curiosity, their creativity. But more than their creative ideas, what I want to know is their understanding of the processes that can transform those ideas into a reality that has a positive impact on people's lives.

As I have put the question to every presidential candidate I have talked to during the past 40 years or so, "Why are coal miners going to be safer in the mines with you in the White House?" along with similar questions. In other words, "I like your proposals, but how are you going to make them happen when they will be so strongly opposed by the major donors to the House and Senate members whom you'll have to persuade to vote for them?"

It's relatively easy to come up with new ideas, even very popular new ideas -- especially if you have a research team to write them and they're tested with polling and focus groups before you reveal what they are, and you're able to follow the advice to "be sincere, even if you don't mean it." What's far from easy is having a Lyndon Johnson's knowledge of what it takes to translate those ideas into legislation that one can get through the House and Senate and still win reelection. Get your candidate to talk about that.

Meanwhile, I'll inform myself regarding what the candidates are proposing. It may reveal something about their background, values, process and focus. I just won't, ultimately, end up endorsing anyone based on their stump speeches alone.

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